Top 10 must-read books for product marketers
It’s kind of hard to be recommending books for something as ever-evolving and creative as SaaS product marketing. The more innovative and quickly evolving an industry is, the more vital it is that those within keep learning all the time. Product marketers have their work cut out for them. Constantly keeping up with the skills necessary to be a successful product marketer is seemingly endless.
We’ve compiled the top 10 must-read books for product marketers:
1. INSPIRED: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love:
Product marketing is now so closely married to product development. The two roles work very closely together as they shape each other’s work. It’s vital for product marketers to understand and incorporate product development into their strategy. Your product is and will likely always be ever changing. INSPIRED goes beyond marketing. This book teaches you how to build an effective and proactive team that consistently works on listening to customers, utilize customer feedback, and building a product that they will continue to love. This book helps product marketers learn to take on an even bigger role in product development and use it to sell the product better.
2. Positioning: How to be seen and heard in the overcrowded market place by Al Ries and Jack Trout:
I know we just mentioned that this is an innovative and ever-changing industry, but there are some books that will always be fundamental classics and applicable for product designers. One of those is Positioning: How to be seen and heard in the overcrowded marketplace. Released way back in 1978, this book is fundamental to product design as well as marketing in general because it focuses on teaching you how to position your product, business, or service (or all three in the case of a SaaS product) in any market. It was one of the first books to really turn away from the notion of traditional advertising and focus on simplifying language, communicating with your target audience, and defining and serving a niche. All of these concepts very much apply to product marketers!
3. Crossing The Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers by Geoffrey Moore
For SaaS product marketers, determining the segments of buyers who you will reach and how to communicate with them is necessary. Different customers will approach your product at different times after launch with different needs and focuses. Geoffrey A. Moore covers how to sell and market to innovators, early adopters, early majority customers, late majority customers, and more. This new, revised version is specifically focused high tech products. Most importantly, he lays out a blueprint for closing the chasm between innovators, your first users, and the mainstream customers who will become the bulk of your revenue if accomplished.
4. Four Steps to the Epiphany
This is a really cut and clear guide book to Steve Blank’s strategies for successful products. The book moves in four clear steps and it really easy to follow and reference. There are some great nuggets of information. There are real life examples of good and bad strategies to try. It follows a “Lean Startup” approach for anyone who wants to sell a product or service. It covers a four step customer development process that illuminates the problems of your product or business plan. Particularly for SaaS products, this book teaches you coincide customer and product development which is vital to successfully growing your user base while improving your product.
5. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products:
A total must-read for product marketers. It’s vital as a product marketer to understand what makes your product valuable to your customers and how you can support them in their discovery of the value of the product. This book goes beyond product design, which is very connected to product marketing now. For many SaaS products, you’re going to be serving multiple target customer groups. It’s your job as a product marketer to help them in discovering your product as the solution to their problems. Nir Eyal covers great examples like iPhone, Twitter, Pinterest and how they got their users “hooked”. He teaches you how to create “hook cycles” that effectively engage users without overspending on advertising as well as providing winning customer support.
6. To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others
Is sales painful for you? For many it is, but as a product marketer, it’s a must. Many of us are anti-sales because it feels forced, scripted, and inauthentic. This book shows you how to tackle sales and re-learn in an authentic, natural way that works for both parties. It teaches you how to understand the other party’s perspective, how to frame your message more clearly, and how to uncover challenges your customers may not even know they face and serve them. Daniel H. Pink asserts that everyone is in sales and to make it real and authentic, we have to really believe in what we are selling. This book is full of practical tips as well as concepts that will help reframe your mindset towards selling your product.
7. Made to Stick: Why some ideas survive and others die
If you’re a product marketer, you’ve 100% heard of the importance of storytelling. Though the concept of storytelling has evolved and expanded across mediums, creating a story that communicates your value and separates your brand from others continues to become increasingly important. Chip Heath and Dan Heath outline clearly how you can create stories that will stick and how to base them in the psychology of ideas that stick. They explore the idea of curiosity gaps and how they can be used to create stories that “stick” in product sales. It’s a practical guide to the creation of narratives that work for your product marketing strategy.
8. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Revised Edition:
If you feel like as a product marketer, your content, copy, and sales strategy has stalled, maybe it’s time to revisit the basics of persuasion. Ultimately, online where you do most of your selling, you have seconds to persuade your customer to want to learn more and ultimately make a purchase. Dr. Cialdini breaks down persuasion into actionable steps and principles that make it easy to digest and apply to multiple sales media. You can incorporate these principles into your emails, your calls, pitch decks, and copy on your website. Learning these basics helps you create more direct sales process to better communicate your products value to your target audience.
9. Building a Story Brand:
Building a StoryBrand really breaks down the concept of storytelling for marketers even further. Donald Miller has created a methodology for helping businesses simplify their messaging to get the attention of the right customers. Donald teaches you how to communicate your product or service, it’s benefits, and competitive advantages so people understand their importance. This philosophy is great for writing content, creating social content, designing web pages and landing pages, etc. This book will help you and your team narrow down and perfect your messaging.
10. Contagious: Why things catch on
Contagious dives into why some things are “contagious” (stick might be more familiar for product marketers) and why others are not. This applies to products, content, media, etc. Johan Berger attempts to explain and teach the concept of “going viral”. He does an excellent job and explaining the science and principles behind word of mouth and social popularity and how to harness it for successful marketing of anything. This is a must read for marketers who are looking to attract end users online.
New release in 2019: Obviously Awesome
Interested in nailing product positioning? You should be! Just because you know your product is awesome doesn’t mean that everybody else does. This book by April Dunford, positioning guru and tech exec, will teach you everything you need to know about how to successfully connect your product with customers. And spoiler alert: it’s not what you think!
What are people saying about Obviously Awesome?
“April Dunford is the master at positioning and bringing B2B tech to market. Obviously Awesome pulls together two decades of her experience into a brilliant step-by-step book that actually shows us how to do positioning, rather than just talking about it—with great examples and a few chuckles along the way.”
—Rich Mironov, CEO and product management guru
Much of product marketing is learned through doing. The SaaS product world is always changing and you have to both observe and do to keep up. However, it always helps to reflect on the lessons others have documented and study how they made it. We hope this book list helps you do that. Try Beamer for an easy and effective way to engage and communicate with users.